Doctors Ian D’Agata and Michael Apstein both trained at Harvard University. And they both happen to be experts in wine.
The physicians are in Edmonton to take part in a University of Alberta panel discussion titled, Wine & Health: The Truths, Myths and Somewhere In-Betweens.
So does the beverage actually have health benefits? The doctors disagree.
“There’s enough anecdotal evidence that tells us that wine can be very good against possibly heart disease, Alzheimer’s, certain forms of cancer, aging… sunburn,” said D’Agata, the scientific advisor for Vinitaly International.
“I don’t think there are any proven health benefits,” said Apstein, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
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Both physicians bring up the French Paradox.
“The French, who have a very high-fat diet and don’t exercise much… have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, than do other people who don’t drink wine,” D’Agata said.
“The flip side of that is the countries that drink the most wine – France, Spain, Portugal and Italy – have the highest rates of liver disease in the world,” Apstein added.
D’Agata points to the cancer-preventing antioxidants in wine. Apstein points to the much bigger role of genetics in cancer development.
But Apstein and D’Agata do agree that wine has a health advantage over other alcoholic beverages in how it’s consumed. A glass of chardonnay or merlot is generally enjoyed slowly, with a meal. That means your blood alcohol level won’t skyrocket.
According to Apstein, the ingredient in wine that has any potential benefits is the same one that makes it harmful: alcohol.
“It’s the alcohol that does good things to your blood fats,” said Apstein.
“It’s the alcohol that does good things to the platelets in your blood that reduce the stickiness of the blood clotting.”
The bottom line is, if you’re sipping syrah to boost your health, skip it. But if you’re partaking in pinot because you love it, the doctors recommend no more than two glasses a day for men, one for women.
Their seminar is on May 4, in Edmonton.